Tying the Flashback Stonefly

Last year I purchased John Barr’s book Barr Flies. I have really enjoyed the book and have found many useful patterns in it besides the famous Copper John. One of my favorite nymphs for an all around pattern has become Barr’s stonefly. He calls it the Flashback Tungstone because he uses a tungsten bead.

I personally don’t use tungsten beads because of the high price.  If I want more weight I can use a larger diameter weighted wire or more wraps under the body.  For these reasons I simply call the fly the Flashback Stonefly.

Flashback Stonefly

Whatever you want to call it, it is a highly effective pattern.  I have used it extensively on the freestone rivers here in Northeast Oregon and the fish simply like it.  Both bull trout and rainbow trout have a hard time not eating it.  It has also became my favorite nymph to use when steelhead fishing.  It has accounted for quite a few of the steelhead I have landed.

I personally tie the fly on a size 6 Daiichi 1530 hook.  This is an extra heavy, 1x short steelhead nymph hook.  It also looks good on a size 8 Daiichi 1560 hook if you don’t need quite as heavy of a hook shank.  You can tie this pattern on longer hook shanks as well.  There are substantially bigger stoneflies in our rivers, but this is a good medium size that catches a lot of fish without taking lots of room in the fly box.

I began tying the fly with brown as John Barr suggests in his book.  But after looking at many of the stoneflies in my local rivers, I didn’t find any that were any color other than black or a very dark brown.  I have been tying the fly with either black, dark brown or occasionally with a synthetic peacock dubbing.  They all work well.  Tying the fly with peacock hurl looks great also, but the fly won’t last nearly as long.  Another material I really like for bodies is marabou.  It provides a naturally tapered body that really breathes in the water.  I don’t know if fish can tell the difference, but it looks good to me.  I tie the majority of mine with dubbing, but if you are bored with that give the marabou body a try.

The two other liberties I have taken with the fly involve the legs and thin skin on the back.  John Barr uses thin skin under the flash back.  I did it without and the fly looked nearly indistinguishable.  Therefore I have left that step out.  I began tying the fly with hackle legs and they worked well.  When steelhead season arrived I decided to tie them with rubber legs instead and I haven’t went back.  The rubber legs work just as well and I think provide a slight advantage in speed and ease of the tie.

I fished stonefly patterns inconsistently in the past because they never caught fish consistently for me.  I am not saying that I have tried every stonefly pattern out there.  There may be some others that catch fish consistently that I have not tried.  When I started fishing the Flashback Stonefly, it caught fish consistently, whether it was the middle of the hot summer or the freezing winter.  It has earned a permanent place in my fly box.

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12 Responses to Tying the Flashback Stonefly

  1. I agree, I personal would recommend John Barr’s book Barr Flies to everyone

  2. Mark Patton says:

    Thanks Grant for posting the video. I am looking forward to trying to tie this one up. I have a small blog that I have been playing around with and I added your site as a key link..hopefully you don’t mind. I think you have one of the best fishing adventure blogs.


    • grant says:

      Thanks for the positive feedback Mark. I am pretty new to this blogging stuff, but I read that other people linking to your site is supposed to be a good thing. With cold, short days and icy roads I will probably expand the fly tying part of the blog more and spend fewer days out on the water. This time of year just seems to be good for tying flies.

  3. F. Reedy says:

    I really like this fly and I love your blog! Question, I have some Jim Teeny hooks in 6 and 8 that are fairly short shank and strong but they are dark/black. I used them for my half-pounder hooks on the Rogue. Do you think the hook color makes any difference?

    • grant says:

      I can’t say whether hook color makes a difference or not. It is not something that I worry about. Bronze or silver hooks are likely to add a small amount of flash that add to the “attractor” attributes of a fly while a black would have less. I have tied on Daiichi 2571 hooks that are black and haven’t noticed any difference. Again, I really would not worry about hook color. It may make a difference but unless you could devise some sort of experiment in a controlled environment, you and I will only be guessing whether or not there is a difference. There are many other factors that probably play a more important role.

  4. Kris says:

    Great videos Grant! I was so glad when you sent me the instructions. Now I get to see it in motion. The only thing I would suggest is a materials list. A great example is the flash that goes up before any of the cadddis fly shop videos with a materials list. Just tossing it out for ya. So when are ya gonna post that egg pattern you told me was so good?
    Tight Lines

    • grant says:

      Yes, I should have added a materials list at the beginning. I will see if I can add that. I will try and get the egg pattern up sometime this week, but it may be next week before I get a chance to do it.

  5. eric gill says:

    stonefly patterns are one of the most important patterns to have in your box. There are so many effective patterns that its impossible to carry all of them but one of the best are your flashbacks you have there above.Try tying some in a smaller size like a 12 they seem to work very well. Also check out a tungsten yellow sally, this fly is my favorite stonefly pattern although very hard to track down and even harder (it seems) to find tying instructions. One more really effective stone (if you are into throwing junk) is Pats rubberlegs. They are an easy tie and work well in all colors, sizes and situations. If you have trouble finding any of those I have info on them, just not in front of me right now.

    • grant says:

      When you say a size 12, how long of a hook are you tying them on? I have been tying them up lately on a 1x short, size 6 for steelhead. This is about the same length as a size 8 that is 1x long, a size 10 that is 2x long, or a size 12 that is 3x long (approximately).

  6. Pingback: Early Steelhead on the Imnaha: September 15, 2012 | fishingandhiking.com

  7. Pingback: Low Water Rafting for Early Grande Ronde Steelhead: September 21-23, 2012 | fishingandhiking.com

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